When creating a profile for the Black Twitter App, one of the prompts asks what are you supposed to put in your grits: sugar or salt? If you answer incorrectly, prospective users are redirected to Twitter.com.
This was one of the humorous hallmarks Jordana Wright, 34, intentionally wrapped into the coding of what she calls the Black people’s version of Twitter, a platform built nearly a year before the now embattled social media company was thrown into disrepair. Black Twitter— the online community made up of highly engaged and characteristically influential Black users—has become a commonplace of comfort for marginalized groups. Mournings, musings, revelations and communal support have taken place within the Twitter subgroup for years and recent threats to the viability of the app have sparked conversations about how invaluable the sect really is.
As Jason Parham pointed out in his Wired.com essay on the potential demise of Twitter due to its new leader’s consistent missteps, ‘there is no replacement for Black Twitter.‘ However, Wright hopes to provide another place of refuge in its stead should it disappear.
“It’s something that cannot be replicated, and I definitely don’t hope for Twitter’s downfall at all,” the founder and software developer told ESSENCE. “I want it to continue as an important place for everyone. There’s space for various types of social media platforms, but the Black Twitter App serves a different need.”
This need she speaks of is the community’s uncanny ability to turn life’s most abhorrent, stressful, and all-around terrible moments into humor. From re-terming the dangerous COVID-19 Omicron variant into the Omarion variant in reference to the famed pop singer, to planning a “homegoing” service for the Twitter app itself (complete with a funeral program), Black Twitter truly holds healing powers.
Although Wright’s Black Twitter App went live in April 2022, a significant uptick in interest took place as news of Elon Musk’s controversial actions gained fervor. To date, she says the platform accrued more than 10,000 users in less than six months with notables like Luvvie Ajayi and April Reign (founder of #OscarsSoWhite) as faithfuls.
“I’ve met some of my best friends on Black Twitter…secured some of my biggest professional opportunities there and honestly have shared the biggest moments of my life with that community, and I know I’m not alone,” Wright shared with ESSENCE.
In the event Twitter devolves, Wright has reimagined its characteristic interface to offer a similar user experience, but with culturally connected touch points. For instance, the Black Twitter App‘s avatar sports African phenotypic features and the news feed configuration is deemed The Cookout.
“I kept the Black experience top of mind with every step I took in building this app,” Wright shared. “Some users even said they’d like to see Wakanda’s purple and black color scheme implemented into our brand aesthetic and I’m seriously considering it. Even something like that is so incredible because on my platform, Black voices are not only heard, but validated and activated. It’s truly a place designed for our very specific and unique culture to thrive.”
Wright hopes to leverage the app’s instant warm reception into investor dollars to expand her team, as she is currently a one-woman-show.
“It’s insanely expensive and really tiring running this app–I’m doing it all alone,” she said. Wright also acknowledged that while overall VC investment in Black woman founders is bleak, she has hope that the importance of the app will solicit funding interest.
Undoubtedly it will.
Oh, and by the way, if you were wondering, the correct answer to that aforementioned entry question is salt, but you already knew that, right?